Joseph Cronly and David Bennett

Joseph Conly ready for another driver mentoring session with retired teacher David Bennett.

By Paul O'Rourke

Becoming a driver mentor seemed a natural fit for retiree David Bennett, who reckons he’s taught more than one thousand people to waterski and his own three children to drive.

David says it’s incredibly satisfying to help people achieve a goal they initially thought was beyond them.

“To see others grow in confidence is a real buzz,” he said.

David says his latest mentoree, Joseph Cronly, 22, is ready for his licence, but still needs to accrue an additional 20 hours before he can be tested.

Joseph, who has struggled with family problems and mental health issues, appreciates the calmness and composure of his quietly-spoken instructor and friend. He looks forward to their weekly driving sessions where his driving skills improve, but where he also gets a dose of encouragement and wisdom as they share life.

“He is like a father figure in my life,” Joseph said.

“He’s very calm, even if you do something a bit wonky. He doesn’t start jumping up and down and getting stressed.

“It’s very reassuring.”

Such is the level of trust and respect between mentor and mentoree, Joseph was able to share with David his anxiety at his girlfriend unexpectedly becoming pregnant.

David listened without judgment as the young couple navigated the journey that ultimately led to the heartache of a miscarriage.

“It was a great privilege to be able to share what has been a stressful time,” he said.

Joseph said getting his licence would help him get work and provide greater freedom.

“A lot of jobs require a licence,” he said.

“We rely on family and friends to give us a lift which is not ideal or easy.”

Joseph heard about Devonport Chaplaincy’s Easy P’s through Eveline House, an Anglicare assisted housing provider for young people who cannot live at home.

David became a driver mentor two years ago after hearing about the program at Devonport's Gateway Church. He's had four students since.

He said prospective driver mentors needed patience, compassion and empathy.

“I like the flexibility of the program which allows me to schedule lessons when it suits, and even to make the driving part of my usual routine.

“For example, if I have to go to Bunnings, then we drive there as part of the lesson. I can pick up what I need, the learner gets experience in a busy carpark, and we can talk as we go.”

The Easy P’s program exists for drivers who can not afford lessons or do not have access to a vehicle in which to learn.

Do you have what it takes to be a driver mentor?

There is a six-month waiting list for learners to be matched with a mentor.

Our next driver mentor training is on Saturday, September 18, from 9am to 3pm at the Devonport Chaplaincy office, 130 William Street, Devonport.

Register your interest.